3/10/2024     by Guest Contributor

Travel Better with These Travel Tips

As professional travel advisors, it’s our job to stay up to date and keep you informed about the ever-changing world of travel. Below you will find our latest batch of travel tips to help you travel better. Please read on and, if you have any additional questions regarding these topics or others, we’re only a phone call, email or text away.

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Albania's coastline: turquoise waters & hidden coves

Summer Destination Alternatives to Escape the Crowds

As summer approaches, the abundance of choices for spending your days can be overwhelming. While the romantic allure of Paris and the endless adventures in the Big Apple often top the list for many travelers, what if you embraced the spirit of Robert Frost and ventured down a less-trodden path? Ahead, we recommend destinations that offer a perfect summer getaway — free from the crowds yet brimming with adventure.

Instead of Paris, head to Buenos Aires

While Paris remains a perennial favorite with its renowned cuisine and artistry, consider shifting gears to Buenos Aires, Argentina. This vibrant city boasts eclectic neighborhoods, noteworthy restaurants and spirited bars. Moreover, Buenos Aires enjoys milder weather during the summer months of December to January, offering a delightful alternative to the traditional European summer experience.

Instead of New York City, head to Montreal

Choosing Montreal over New York City in summer ensures a serene escape from crowds while maintaining a vibrant experience. The city's unique blend of French and North American history, charming neighborhoods and rich culinary scene offers so much to see and do. From the historic charm of the Old Port to the green spaces of Mount Royal and the artsy Plateau Mont-Royal, Montreal provides a tranquil backdrop for exploration.

Instead of Mykonos, head to Albania

If you’re looking for a Mediterranean summer escape, head to the untouched beaches along the Ionian and Adriatic coasts of Albania. This tranquil country boasts a rich historical and cultural tapestry, featuring ancient ruins, vibrant local markets and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, all without the overwhelming tourist crowds found in Mykonos. Opting for Albania allows travelers to discover the hidden gems of the Balkans, reveling in a quieter and a more genuine summer getaway. 

Instead of London head to Oslo

Oslo stands as a formidable competitor to London, offering a unique blend of Nordic history and outdoor experiences. The city's strong commitment to sustainability and its focus on outdoor activities, like exploring the Oslo fjord or unwinding in its numerous parks, creates a laid-back and nature-centric atmosphere. Choosing Oslo provides travelers with the opportunity to immerse themselves in a quieter yet culturally rich environment, making it the perfect destination for those in search of a more peaceful summer escape.

In a world brimming with hidden gems, countless destinations offer comparable experiences to their popular counterparts, yet with a notable absence of overwhelming crowds. Talk to our agency to discover how you can head down the road less traveled this summer.

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Amalfi Coast, Italy

Opportunities for Solo Travelers

Solo traveling is bigger than ever, which means more places, companies and organizations are offering ways for solo travelers to experience the world on their own. If you’re thinking about taking a step out into independent travel, look at these new opportunities for solo travelers below.

Cruising Solo:

Embracing the latest trend in cruise ship accommodations, solo travelers are finding studios or single cabins to be the epitome of modern cruising. These cabins, a departure from the traditional family rooms, offer just the right amount of space without unnecessary excess. In these cozy havens, travelers can relish the luxury of having a private retreat, perfect for those moments when solitude is desired.

 However, the benefits of solo cruising extend beyond the cabin. Seizing the opportunity to engage in individual activities on board can be a gateway to meaningful connections. Partake in hands-on cooking workshops or join a wine-tasting session to not only refine your culinary skills but also to mingle with fellow travelers. These unique experiences become a social bridge, fostering connections with other solo adventurers or creating friendships with diverse groups of people, transforming the cruise into a communal and enriching journey.

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Enjoy cruising on your own


Some of our cruise line partners that have offers for solo travelers include Norwegian Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, Cunard, Oceania Cruises, AmaWaterways, UnCruise Adventures and Hurtigruten. Ask us about their latest offers.

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Touring Solo:

Contrary to common perception, stepping out on a solo travel journey doesn't equate to complete solitude. If the allure of Italy beckons and your circle lacks adventurous spirits, consider the option of joining a group tour. These solo-friendly tours present an intriguing dynamic where you might find yourself paired with a fellow solo traveler for shared accommodations (or you can always opt for a solo lodging experience). The spectrum of choices extends from larger group settings to more intimate gatherings, such as a cozy 12-person group. This flexibility allows you to tailor your travel experience to your comfort level while delving into the wonders of the world without the need for a familiar companion.

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Copenhagen, Denmark



A few of our preferred tour partners that have offers for solo adventurers include Globus, Cosmos, Tauck, Intrepid Travel and G Adventures.

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Solo Silent Retreats:

For those yearning for absolute solitude in their upcoming journey, a myriad of silent retreats worldwide beckons. The allure of silent retreats lies in the opportunity to completely disengage from the external world. Whether you're drawn to the cultural richness of India and Tibet or prefer the tranquil landscapes closer to home, these retreats offer a sanctuary for embracing a vow of silence. If you do choose to do a solo silent retreat, expect the world to fade away. These retreats often become immersive experiences that go beyond physical locations, offering a transformative escape into the realms of self-discovery and inner peace. 

Regardless of your aspirations for the upcoming year, heading out on a solo adventure is a prospect worth considering. While the idea of solo travel might initially appear intimidating, the key lies in recognizing that, depending on your preferences and personality, it opens a realm of countless opportunities for you to embrace and expand your independence.

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Paris in the run-up to the Olympics

Interesting Events at the Paris Olympics

The City of Love has long been an international daydream destination. The fact that they’ll host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games is simply setting the stage for a total eclipse of travel dreams: Paris — with all its history, culture and gastronomy — and the exhilarating spectacle of the Olympics combine to create an experience like no other. Here are some standout moments you may want to consider while visiting.

Boxing at Roland-Garros:

Home to the French Open, Roland-Garros is one of the most iconic tennis venues in the world, so the chance to watch boxing events in it is a thoroughly unique opportunity. Sub out the famed red clay courts for the rope-lined stage of boxing’s medal rounds and you have what the announcers might dub “a show.”

Swimming in the Seine:

Committed to the causes of sustainability and innovation, Paris has vowed to host the open-water swimming events in the Seine River. Getting the water safe enough for the athletes is a Herculean task in itself, with some $1.5 billion already invested toward the goal. The payoff is priceless: Watching the athletes glide through the flowing heart of the city will be a magnificent sight — and ideally the beginning of the Seine being swimmable for recreational use!

Breaking Out the Breaking:

Debuting as an Olympic sport in Paris, breaking (or breakdancing as it’s more commonly known) will be an event you don’t want to miss. Athletes will have to match their moves to the ever-changing beat of a DJ’s tracks to secure the judge’s votes. Witnessing this lively slice of Olympic history in person will at the minimum make for a lively show!

Running the Marathon:

If you’ve ever dreamed of running in the Olympics, now might be your best chance: The 2024 Games will offer a general-public marathon, where 20,024 runners will get to race along the same course as the elite athletes. For 26.2 miles, you can cruise right by iconic sites like the Palais Garnier Opera House, the Louvre, Musée National de Céramique de Sevres, Château de Versailles and the Eiffel Tower. How’s that for a priceless experience?

When it’s all said and done, the things to do while visiting Paris for the 2024 Summer Games are nearly endless. Contact our team to start planning your trip for this thrilling sports experience.

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Explore more with a convenient rental car.

Tips When Renting a Car

Whether you need a car to drive from the airport to your seaside cabin, or you’re planning a road trip and don’t want to put extra miles on the family sedan, then a rental car is in your future. What doesn’t have to be in your future is difficulty choosing the right rental. Here are five tips to ensure you end up behind the wheel of the best car possible.

The Price Is Right:

Many travelers view a rental car like their luggage: they know it’s necessary, but don’t want to fuss about it too much. If this describes you, then by all means shop by price and choose the smallest vehicle the car company has. However, the need for the vehicle should dictate the size and style of the car you rent. Cross-country trip with the kids? Go as big as you can afford, because having all that extra room is a vacation-saver. Anniversary road-trip around Ireland? Upgrade to a luxe model to make the occasion extra special. 

Stick to the Big Boys:

When renting, you may find a great price for a compact car through some low-budget, locally owned company or app-based rental startup. Before committing, know that the rental will also come with low-budget, locally owned service, which may steer you into a bad mood once you’ve dealt with it. In our experience, it’s best to stick to the bigger, national brands that are best at getting people into their cars fast and helping out swiftly if things go wrong on the road.

Must Have Airport Location:

There are very few deal-breakers when it comes to choosing a rental car company, but this is definitely one: It must have cars located at the airport. The last thing you want to do when your plane lands is take a cab or bus to an off-site rental company, which only adds an extra leg onto the journey. Choose one you can walk to, or at least has direct shuttle bus service to an on-airport facility, thus saving you valuable time.

Take a Pre-Ride Video:

Sometimes when you return a car, the company may accuse you of recent damage to the vehicle. To get out of an argument (and possibly paying for repairs), take many photos and videos of both the interior and exterior of your vehicle before you drive it off the lot.

Look Out for Hidden Charges:

Due to typical taxes and fees, the price of a rental car always exceeds the quoted price. However, there are non-typical fees to watch out for too, such as drop-off charges for one-way rentals and mandatory insurance on international rentals. To avoid these expensive surprises and more, turn to our agency to navigate your next rental car reservation.

 

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Roneka Samalenge
Roneka Samalenge
Sterling, VA
Experience Luxury with Bellavue Travel
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Ryan Munseok Choi
Herndon, VA
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Janice Fitzpatrick
Janice Fitzpatrick
Great Falls, VA
www.JFitzpatrickTravel.com
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